How to ask for pardon for lying in immigration proceedings?

This week in my Consulta Migratoria® column I answer a reader's question.

Each case is different and the answers vary depending on each person's immigration history.

Here I provide general answers to your questions. Please consult with an immigration attorney to receive personalized legal advice before starting any procedure.

This is the column:

I was born in El Salvador in 1974. I first traveled to the United States in 1995 on a tourist visa. I was 21 years old at the time and my mother was applying for asylum. The notary who helped my mother told me that I could get a work permit if I said that I was under 21 and that I entered the country illegally. So on the work permit application we put 1977 as the year of my birth and that I had entered through San Ysidro. They gave me the work permit.

In 2001, I registered for TPS and was issued a work permit. On the applications I put the incorrect information that I had previously put for fear of losing my work permit if I told the truth.

I am married to an American and on our marriage certificate my year of birth is also incorrect. Is it possible to apply for permanent residency through my husband by listing my true year of birth? Will immigration forgive me for lying? -Maria V.

Maria, it is unfortunate that you were given such bad advice, especially since you entered the country legally and are now married to a U.S. citizen. If you had not lied in the past, your process for permanent residency might have been easier.

Now, from what you write, your case is very complicated and it is possible that what you did is considered fraud or misrepresentation of a fundamental or essential fact in immigration proceedings by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), something that is punishable by law.

You definitely need to consult your case with an immigration attorney who can analyze all the documentation you submitted to the government in the past, because this will be key in determining what steps to take to try to resolve your current situation.

If you were to file an application for permanent residence, and you put your real date of birth on an application for permanent residence, the USCIS will notice a contradiction in information, since you have put another date in the past. This will cause immigration officials to review your case and possibly realize that you lied to obtain an immigration benefit.

The law provides that obtaining an immigration benefit by fraud or misrepresentation of a fundamental or essential fact generally renders an immigrant inadmissible to the country. Being admissible to the country is one of the requirements for permanent residence in the US.

Under certain circumstances, it is possible to apply for a waiver for committing fraud or lying in immigration proceedings. In your situation, you will have to show that your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or parents will experience "extreme hardship" if you are not granted residency.

Causes of "extreme hardship" include health problems, loss of employment or opportunities for advanced education, inability to support the family without the immigrant's income, family separation, among others.

Please consult with an immigration attorney before beginning any immigration proceedings. The attorney will determine whether you committed fraud or misrepresentation of a fundamental or essential fact in your immigration proceedings and explain your legal options.

For more information and immigration tips, read my blog

Send your questions to Include detailed information about your situation to better answer your questions.

Nelson A. Castillo, Esq. is an immigration attorney and author of La Tarjeta Verde: Cómo Obtener la Residencia Permanente en los Estados Unidos (Green Card: How to Obtain Permanent Residence in the United States). He is a past president of the Hispanic National Bar Association and current president of the Los Angeles Westlake South Neighborhood Council. To contact Mr. Castillo's office, please call (213) 537-VISA (8472).

The purpose of this column is to provide general information. There can be no guarantee or prediction as to what will be the outcome of the information presented by Dr. Nelson A. Castillo. The information should not be taken as legal advice for any individual, case or situation. Consult with an immigration attorney for personalized legal advice before beginning any immigration proceedings.